An unpredictable journey: Following the call to bilingual pastoring by Marta Castillo

Marta Castillo, Norristown New Life

castillos.jpgMy name is Marta Castillo. The name itself puts me in a box I do not fit. I am not Latina or originally from a Spanish speaking country. Perhaps I should say that my name is Marta (Beidler) Castillo. A few of you may recognize the “Beidler” name. “Beidler” does not, however, elicit images of the bilingual associate pastor that I have recently been called to be at Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church.

God has invited me on an unpredictable journey of twists and turns, rooted deeply in God’s love and faithfulness.

At a young age, 8 or 9, I remember seriously wanting to serve God for the rest of my life as a missionary or mission worker. At that time, our family was living in Indonesia and I knew that my parents’ faith in God was strong enough for them to move their family, learn to live in a new culture, and learn a new language in order to serve God.

Even when we returned to the United States in 1986 (I was 16), my goal was to finish high school, go to college, and return overseas. It was not until after I graduated from college and was almost signed up to go to Egypt with Mennonite Central Committee that I realized God was not calling me overseas at that time. My relationship with God suffered during my college years and I did not find a church that I felt I could relate to during those years or the following three years that I lived in Washington, DC.

In 1994, I came to a crossroads in my life. I was attending a Quaker meeting on and off but really had made some mistakes in my life. I realized that God was giving me a choice. Move back to Pennsylvania and chose to renew my spiritual life or stay in DC and walk further away. I knew that I had to choose God and I moved back to Pennsylvania.

I began to be involved at Nueva Vida Norristown New Life, and I experienced “church” for the first time. These were people who spoke openly and freely of their shortcomings, gave their testimonies, and accepted each other across cultural, economical, language, and racial lines as brothers and sisters in love.

Accepting one church commitment after another, I grew in the Lord. I learned much diversity of worship and prayer from my Spanish speaking brothers and sisters, as well as having strong mentoring relationships with two pastors, one of whom was my father.

About three years ago, I began to sense a call to pastoral ministry, but being a married woman with small children, I could not see how it would be possible. I expected that the Lord would prepare my husband and I to serve together in ministry as a team. God just kept working and guiding gently and I continued to have opportunities to be stretched in ministry.

In May of 2006, I went on a spiritual retreat and God confirmed to me that I had a calling to pastoral ministry. I was confident in God’s calling but was unsure how God would work it all out. In December of 2006, I quit my part-time job, sensing that 2007 would bring the changes God had planned.

God has encouraged, prepared, and gently led me each step of the way. All God wanted was my willingness. God has and will continue to take care of the equipping, empowering, love, and wisdom needed for pastoring. So here I am, Marta (Beidler) Castillo. God has called me and my congregation has supported me in my calling. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

photo provided by Marta Castillo